Time Flies.

Today is August 31.  Time flies.

Hockey starts again in less than a month.  Time flies.

Remember that post a few months back about my parents selling our childhood home so they could build their dream house? (see The House That Built Me)  Ya, well that house sold 6 days after I wrote that.  Today marks the last day our family can ever be called the Westgate Wales'. Time flies.

The days have finally become "normal".  It's dark when we go to bed and dark when we wake up.  We even spotted "termination dust" (a dusting of snow) on the tops of the mountains in Denali last weekend. It's time to pull out the slippers. Winter isn't too far behind.  Time flies.


My brother sent me this picture of our university diplomas side-by-side the other day.  We graduated from the same university, 4 years apart.  Not sure if he was sending me this to a) remind me how cool he is (you know I'm proud of you T) or to b) remind me how old we're getting.  Probably a, but I was definitely feelin' b.  Time friggin' flies.








What a Hoot!

Isn't this guy just a stunner?  And so photogenic?  


This is Errol.  He's a great gray owl and the newest addition to the Alaska Zoo Ambassador Animal family.  This summer Errol suffered a head injury when he flew into a parked car. 

Great grays are one of the most reclusive owls in North America so to have him in our Ambassador Animal family and be able to teach people of all ages about this beautiful bird is very special.  


Gorgeous.






For more information on this beautiful bird, check out the Alaska Department of Fish & Game's species profile.

Enjoy getting lost in those eyes.






Photo of the Week

Just a sneak peek of the breathtaking fall colors we experienced in Denali National Park & Preserve this weekend.













Bizarre.

A bizarre story out of yesterday's news... 

Maybe I find this funny because I know the area and can play out this entire scenario in my head.  I've driven off the very same ferry and been on a boat that's launched in the very same harbor. But regardless of knowing the area or not, at what point do you say screw the GPS and stop your car because you're heading directly down a boat launch into the water?! Bizarre indeed.

Man guided by GPS drives off ferry into Whittier harbor.


Happy Friday! 
Hope your weekend is better than this guy's!




One of those days...


(Note: This is written in the present-tense because it is currently happening in my life... Just great.)

I woke up this morning to the sound of pouring rain. Keep in mind, pouring in AK is not near the same as pouring back east, but that's beside the point. It was raining. My first thought as i looked out the window was "It's going to be one of those days." I think I must be psychic.

Today was day 1 of Steve's 7am gym time. A 7am gym time isn't my fav and we had to tweak the morning routine that has been perfect so far, but it's definitely doable (with coffee). Doable as long as every morning is not like this morning.

I dropped Steve off at the gym for 7 and drove the 15ish minutes home with the plan of getting ready and heading into work for 830. With only one car, the new plan is for Steve to get dropped off at the zoo once he's done at 9 so that he can pick up the car. Anyways, I got home and turned off the car, only to realize two seconds too late that Steve has both sets of keys. Don't even ask how I got home without the keys somewhere in the car. Shouldn't there be some type of buzzer or flashing light yelling "You don't have keys dummy, don't drive away!" Or better yet, shouldn't the car just stop running?! Thanks for failing me push-to-start ignition. And now, since I have no keys in a car that won't turn on I, a) cant drive back to get them b) can't get a hold of Steve because he's at the gym c) am locked out of the apartment so I can't even get ready for work if I wanted to and d) am going to be extremely late for work because Steve won't be home until 930 (and that's hoping he gets my message to get dropped off at home and not the zoo). Great start to the morning. I guess it could be worse though, at least we had pillows and blankets in the car.

Good thing the sound of raindrops on the car roof is so calming...



                                                       

I Only Have Eyes for Ewe

(Photo by John Gomes, Alaska Zoo photographer.)

Isn't this just so cute it makes you want to puke?! A simple nose to nose is how she reminds me she loves me. She is such a lover.  Is that weird of me to say?

The above photo was taken last Saturday when we spent the afternoon at Bird Treatment and Learning Centre's Autumn Wings Festival with cutiepie Lauren the dall sheep.  A great afternoon had by all, including Miss Lauren. This was only Lauren's fourth visit off zoo grounds and she proved yet again she is a rockstar and amazing ambassador for her species, but definitely needed a nap after a long day of eating dandelions and fireweed...





Here are some of Bird TLC's feathery friends that made an appearance at the festival...

Left: Peregrine falcon     Right: Snowy owl


Great horned owl
Great grey owl


Clearly I'm an animal lover. Please don't try to tell me otherwise.

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I want to give a big shout out to all of "Our Alaskan Staycation" readers.  Whether you are friends, family or complete strangers, whether you have followed from the beginning or just recently embarked on the journey with us, and whether you follow religiously or occasionally just stop on by, I can't thank you enough for all of your support!  Something that started as a way to keep in touch and communicate our adventures to friends and family back home has grown into something that is read by people all over the world.  It is my hope that it will only continue to grow. So please, keep following, keep reading and keep commenting (positive comments only please).  And if there is anything in particular you would like to see, please let me know!  

We're happy to have you along for the journey.



Photo(s) of the Week

The four bears seen on our recent trip down to Kenai.  Made for a very exciting drive :)

Black bear doing some fishing along the Kenai River. Gulls didn't seem to mind one bit.
Mama brown bear (with a massive head) looking for baby.
Baby taking his sweet time up the stairs.
This one was 20 yards from us as we set up our tent, which we continued to set up with bear spray in hand.


Always an adventure.


Grolar Bears & Pizzlies

Wow!  I can't believe it's Friday already.  This week has just flown on by! 

It's been a while, so I figured it was time for some polar bear talk... I came across an interesting article  from my friends at Polar Bears International addressing polar bear evolution and what it means for polar bears in a warming climate.  With talk of "pizzlies" and "grolar bears" (grizzly/polar bear hybrid) in the news the past few years, I thought it would be an interesting read to share. Not to mention, more and more out of state visitors are asking about it and I just find it really intriguing. Some food for thought going into the weekend:


The article discusses how in the wild, climate change is erasing the distance between the brown bear and polar bear species. Brown bears are moving north into polar bear territory, and polar bears are being forced off melting ice to spend more time on land, where they're more likely to encounter brown bears. With sea ice melting at an unprecedented rate, and polar bears consequently being driven towards extinction, people are beginning to wonder if this hybridization and their production of viable offspring will be the saving grace for the great white bear.  "Whether this hybrid can produce viable offpsring or not, and regardless of what we learn from continuing studies on the polar bear, it is important to remember that hybridization does not offer salvation for polar bears.  The current rate of global warming is so rapid polar bears will starve and become extinct long before their genes may be swamped by those of brown bears.  And as polar bear lovers and conservationists, it is not whether some polar bear genes "live on" in a hybrid terrestrial animal, like a pizzly, it is whether the great white bear we all know and love, and its unique habits and habitat, can persist."

Just some food for thought.




Where Has Summer Gone?

Today marked the last day at work for our summer camp assistant and the second last day for one of the animal husbandry interns.  Today, I was faced with the reality that summer is actually almost over (although weather wise, we didn't really have one at all). As I lay here on the couch, baking chocolate chip cookies and waiting until I can pick Steve up at the airport form his 3 week trip back home, I have been thinking about what has happened this summer, and how fast it has flown by. Yes, I know, it's only the beginning of August, but sooner than we know it, like in a matter of weeks, the days are going to get shorter, the leaves are going to change color, the temperature is going to drop, and the 2012-2013 hockey season, and school year, are going to start.  Where has summer gone?!

I was reading through my daily blog roll and came across an interesting post at The Traveling Circus. The woman, who's husband plays hockey in Japan (yes, they do have a league), was discussing the stress and tense moments that occur between the end of one hockey season and the beginning of the next, and how waiting to hear where you'll be living, when you'll be leaving, and possibly if he'll even be playing, is one helluva stressful time.  She mentions how the weeks leading up to the contract signing are the most stressful and how she would sometimes like to just take it into her own hands.  I couldn't agree more.  For me, it's the lack of control over the situation that gives me the most anxiety. The not knowing. I have to know who, what, where, when and why. Does that make me a control freak? I don't know how many times I said to Steve "When are you going to meet with the coach?", "Please make sure you call him before we go to Hawaii" and then when I finally heard the answer I wanted, it would be "Ok, well don't forget to ask this, this and this." I acted like I was his agent or something (I like to think that after 7 hockey seasons, I know a little something about the game). I'm lucky he controlled what he was really thinking he'd like to say in response. 

After reading her entire post, I couldn't agree and relate more to her frustration and anxiety.  But, once the decision has been made and the contract signed, a GINORMOUS weight is lifted.  We can go on with our lives (at least for 8 more months until we do it all over again). No more questioning and no more occasional outbursts of tears because I don't know where I'll be living come September. We can finally enjoy the rest of what's left of our summer, before the hockey season starts once again. And that's just what we're going to do.  All 8 weeks of it.





The Main Event

Besides a much needed vacation, there was a purpose to our trip to Kauai... To help celebrate the marriage of our good friends! Enjoy some pictures from the main event.











 Photos of the wedding party by Vanessa & David Chavez (unless otherwise noted).




Not So Little Anymore

My baby girl's not so little anymore...